BY GRACE ALONE (PART 19)
In writing to fellow believers at Rome, the apostle Paul said, “…God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God loves His people by grace, not according to anything they have done, and God is gracious toward His people because He loves them based on His will and purpose, not their will and works. No sinner could ever have saved himself. No sinner could ever have participated, or cooperated, in his own salvation, for prior to being made alive in Christ all sinners are dead in sins and without Christ. The people whom God gave to Christ Jesus to die for, did not love Him. He died for His sheep whilst they were still hostile toward God. The sheer impudence of lost man to think that he has done anything to merit any part of salvation, or that salvation cannot take place without his assistance, reveals just how appalling the state of being dead in sins is. Salvation is not possible without God, and so, nothing a man can do can get himself saved. Without God man is without hope. Jesus said that with man—who he is and what he has done—salvation is impossible. “And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And He said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Lk. 18:26,27 cf. Matt. 19:26). So if salvation is impossible with man, it must only be possible with God. If salvation is impossible with man by works, then it must only be possible with God by grace. Jesus said, “…no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:65), so obviously before this gift of coming to the Lord is given, no man can come to God. “…With men it is impossible…” (Mk. 10:27). Anything man does is not the way to salvation, but is an impediment to salvation, and a denial that salvation is only possible by God through His grace alone. Salvation does not come by man through works, it comes only from God by grace. Anything man tries to do to get saved is an overt repudiation of grace. It is a renunciation of the doctrinal truth that God saves His people by grace alone.
God does not save people based on their rejection of His unique salvation plan. Grace exhausts all avenues to salvation. There is no other way to Heaven, but by God. The grace of God is the only way. Outside of grace alone there is nothing but confusion concerning how a man is saved. Grace is unique, for it comes only according to the will of God. It is important to remember that the whole of salvation is covered by the whole of grace. No part of that which is required in the salvation of a man has failed to be dealt with, entirely, and comprehensively, by the grace of God. Therefore, there are absolutely no grounds for anyone to build a Biblical argument for the Gospel of salvation failing to be that which embodies all the doctrines which teach the grace of God in the salvation of His people. There is no part of salvation that does not require the grace of God in the salvation of His people. No part of salvation is conditioned on man, but every square inch of it is conditioned on the grace of God. And the vehicle through which God teaches the individual doctrines which deal with grace in salvation, is the Gospel. The whole of the Gospel is about the whole of salvation being conditioned on the whole of grace. Jesus said: “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18). Nothing and no one can stop God saving any of His children. The point I am making is that if a man’s mind is full of the notion that he can do in order to participate in his getting or remaining saved, he only distances himself further and further away from the truth that God alone is the Saviour and He only saves by grace alone. Man can do nothing to assist in his salvation, for the very need for grace reveals that prior to salvation man is unprofitable in all that he is and in all that he does. What salvation demands only God can supply. Every sinner needs a Saviour, the Saviour Who was sent because of, and by, grace. No one can be saved by anything less than the grace of God, or by anything added to the grace of God. Anything which the sinner adds to grace immediately cancels out grace. It cancels out God coming to a man with grace and doing only what He can do, and replaces it with man attempting to reach God by what the man does. Lost man simply will not ‘allow’ God to save him by grace alone, because he insists on his playing a role in that salvation. This is the curse of sin’s deception upon every man by nature. It is nothing short of man sinfully wanting at least part of the glory for his salvation. A ‘saved’ man trying to be a co-Saviour with God in his ‘salvation’ is nothing but a spiritually dead man achieving nothing. Man cannot increase his chances of getting saved by anything he does, for he is dead in sins.
Salvation is by grace alone because it cannot be by works at all, therefore, no part of salvation can be because of any work of man’s. Man cannot get saved he can only be saved. “The house that is built partly on a rock and partly on sand will fall, and the sinner who rests his hope of salvation partly on Christ and partly on his own works, will be damned.” Nothing about salvation requires a man to do something, because man can do nothing. Grace is only sent because grace is the only means by which a man is saved. Man can’t, therefore, only God can. Every sinner lies dead at the feet of God, and there is nothing else that can bring a sinner to life than the unadulterated grace of God. To attempt to add anything to grace is to take away from grace, in fact, it is to take away grace altogether, and is, therefore, a denial of grace, being in diametric opposition to all that grace is. The works of men are like kryptonite to grace. Grace has no power when people insist on attaching their works to it. All they are left with is works which cannot save. “…if it be of works, then is it no more grace…” (Rom. 11:6). Grace is frustrated by works, it is nullified by works, just as what Christ has done is made void if you believe your obedience plays an intrinsic, indeed any, part, in salvation. To say that grace enables a man to do that which must be done in order to meet a prerequisite to salvation, is to drag the purity of saving grace into man’s polluted and perverted ways to salvation. It is to say that grace in insufficient to save on its own, but requires the power of man. The Lord Jesus Christ declared salvation is impossible with man. Sinful, lost dead-in-sins man declares salvation is impossible without man. Which do you believe? Man is dead in sins, so salvation by anything a man does is impossible. The word of God says salvation is impossible with man, man says salvation is impossible with God. Those who believe Satan’s lie that man is not dead in sins, believe that salvation is impossible without a man doing something. To be truly saved is to be saved by grace, by what God has done. To be saved is to be saved by what the Saviour has done. Whoever heard of a Saviour saving someone by that which the Saviour did not do. How can you call someone a rescuer who did not rescue a person by what they, the rescuer, did! How can anyone be saved, or rescued by what they have done? To be saved is to be saved by God, and not by what you have done. One of the symptoms of being lost, of being under the curse of sin, is to seek salvation by one’s own deeds either added to, or independent of, what God has done. God’s people always praise God for what HE has done, and they never attempt to add anything of their own to God’s salvation work, for they know that God’s grace has done it all. Again, God’s grace does not enable anyone to do anything before salvation, for salvation is only conditioned on God, only upon His grace. To help a man do to get saved, or remain saved, is not the role grace was sent to play. The grace of God is not a co-star alongside the works of man, for the starring role of grace in salvation is to save, and nothing less. Grace is the only ‘star’ in salvation. Now before anyone foolishly accuses me of denying Christ’s place in salvation, the context of my statement concerns grace as that by which all else comes. Grace is that which saves. Grace is the enlivener. Grace resurrects the spiritually dead man so he can perform the work which has been appointed him to do. These works are the fruit of grace, or the fruit of Righteousness which has come by grace, the fruit of salvation, and not that which in any way contributes to salvation. The saved man is “…filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:11). Grace waits and is dependent only upon the will of God. Man has no say in his salvation, for he is spiritually dead in his sins. Man by nature does not even know he is spiritually dead, so how could he ever attempt to do anything to come alive again when he believes he is not dead. What would such a man do, what could he do, when the Scriptures clearly state that it is by grace that ye are saved.
Christians are Christians solely by the will, purpose, love, mercy and grace of the Almighty and Sovereign God. They are a product of that which is totally undeserved. They are the fruit of God’s love, produced by Him, created by Him and no one, nor anything, else. There is nothing inherent within man that can ever lead him to the only true God. Man cannot even recognize the true God as God without the grace of God. God draws His chosen to Him by His grace, for there is no other way. They do not love Him before He loves them. They do not choose Him, for He has chosen them. This is grace. Grace is God doing, and God doing FIRST. People say that election is not fair, but how else could God save a dead, lifeless sinner were it not by His wonderful predestinating grace! Questions such as this need to be addressed rather than ignored. By saying election is not fair, a person has only one recourse: If God did not choose us, then we must be the ones that choose God. Again, we have the situation completely turned around which at once leads a man away from the true grace of God, away from the reality of salvation, away from the fact that man is spiritually dead to God, causing him to turn to his own works, his own efforts at reaching God. But how can this be done when the Word of God states that man at his best is vain, completely profitless. Lost man tries to evade this truth by claiming what he does to successfully get saved is what God has enabled him to do by grace. But, again, this provides us with the utterly blasphemous scenario that salvation awaits that which a man must do before God can save him. If election is not fair then God’s goodness would not be fair, God’s grace would not be fair, God’s mercy would not be fair and ultimately God would be unfair. What a monster, man has created in his mind and called ‘God’. Man choosing God is antithetical to the Biblical principle of grace which Jesus simply and succinctly explained: “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you…” (Jn. 15:16). By saying that God choosing those whom He wants saved purely by His will, grace and mercy, is something unfair, is to say that the only right way a man can be saved is by his choice of God: by his doing something to attract salvation to him and not by grace alone. In other words salvation should not rightly be by grace—that which is unmerited—but by something merited, not by God’s act alone, but by a righteous act of man’s. Sinful lost man would be waiting a very long time if he thinks, in his dead-in-sins state, that he could ever produce a truly, purely Righteous act. If anyone conditions salvation upon what a man does, then we have a situation which says salvation is deserved, and, therefore, it cannot be by grace alone. However, when Scripture says by grace are ye saved, it is saying that ye are saved by grace alone. There is nothing else in Ephesians 2:5,8,9 which the Word of God says a man is saved by. It is by grace and by grace alone. In fact, it specifically states that it is "not of yourselves…not of works”. Salvation is by grace because it is by grace alone. ‘By that which is undeserved are ye saved’, means no part of salvation can possibly be conditioned on what a man does. Consequently, salvation cannot come by anything a man does, but only by what a man is given. The only good works a man can do, come AFTER grace, and not before. No work of man’s receives reward from God prior to his being saved by grace alone. To say a man can/must do something to get saved is to completely do away with grace, mercy and every other Godly means of salvation: God’s will, His purpose and His love. It insists that man be in control of the whole situation. ‘You don’t choose me, God, but I will choose you if and when I want to’, is the sinful attitude of lost man who takes for granted that the god he speaks about is the true God of Holy Scripture. An increasing number of people believe something is true, not based on facts, but on their desire for it to be true. Lost man has always believed that he is saved, not after an act of God, not according to the will of God, but ‘saved’ only after a deed of man’s. This is false grace, for it is no grace at all. It is a false salvation, for it is no salvation at all.
If God is Righteous—which He is—and grace is a Righteous act of God—which it is—then there is no way that election could possibly be unfair according to the Scriptures. Election is quite unfair to the carnal mind which is dead to the truth of true grace, dead to the impossibility of any man ever doing anything to get saved, but not to the mind which thinks according to the Word of God. The man who has been made alive to God by God is the man who can discern the truth of God as the truth of God, and rejects everything else claiming to be that truth. The saved man sees beauty where the lost man sees only ugliness. The saved man sees the glory and goodness of God in the election of His people by grace alone, where the lost man sees only unfairness and unrighteousness and declares they will never serve the God of election. “Grace pushes back against this world’s understanding and definition of what is fair. It refuses to play by our rules of reciprocity, fairness, and even-handedness.” Grace is a gift, and not a reciprocal act which God is in any way obliged to perform, for if a man truly loves the only true God it is of a surety that God loved the man first (see 1 Jn. 4:19). Salvation is not a reciprocal act of God’s, otherwise it could not be by grace. Grace is undeserved, so how could anything ever be done to deserve it! How could anything be done before it is given! You cannot gain God’s love, God’s grace, by anything you do, just as a man cannot gain a Rolls Royce by paying nothing for it. You cannot earn what is free. In the case of grace this means that grace is so priceless that there is no currency which man has any access to that he can purchase grace with. Nothing man has, does, can do, would like to do or can imagine himself doing can ever earn him grace. Grace is a gift and comes no other way but by the Will of Almighty God. God’s love for His chosen is not a reciprocal love, for the only reason His people love Him is because He loved them first. Likewise, a man is saved because the gift of the grace of God is given, not earned. A man loves God, a man is saved, because God loved the man before the man loved Him, and a man is saved by grace before the man did anything to get saved.
Before salvation man by his very nature is hostile toward God. Each and every religious person who believes they are Christian, but do not know God, is hostility itself against God, for they think only with a carnal mind. They can wax lyrical about ‘grace’ and ‘mercy’ and ‘love’, etc., but these things are always mixed with such doctrinal poison that has convinced them a man must do or he cannot be saved, or remain saved. They judge saved and lost not by the doctrines of the Gospel of grace alone, but by a man’s character and conduct. God’s people are saved by grace not works. They are saved by what God has done not by what they do. God’s people forgive because they are forgiven, they are not forgiven because they forgive. God’s people are not saved because of anything they have done, but solely because of what God has done. They love because of God, they forgive because of God and they are saved because of God. A man’s love for God can never precede the love of God for the man, for the love of God is eternal—it can never be actuated by anything or anyone apart from Almighty God. God’s love must be undeserved for salvation to be by grace, just as a man must be dead in sins before he is made alive by grace. God willed all those whom He gave unto His Son before the foundation of the world to be saved, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (Jn. 6:37 cf. Jn. 17:2,9). No man can come to Christ unless he has been given to Him, entrusted to Him, by the grace of God. A saved man is not one who has given himself to God, but one who has been loved by God and given by Him to His Son. No act of man’s could possibly have preceded, not only his existence, but also the very existence of the foundation of the world. Therefore, no act of man’s preceded the will of God in the salvation of His people. Even the nonsensical doctrine of God’s choosing a man because He foresaw that he would do good deeds and respond positively to God’s alleged offer of salvation, etc., has salvation conditioned on a man. It has God handing out salvation to those He foresaw would respond to Him in a positive way. Again, this would do away with any need for grace and mercy, and make salvation something deserved because it would be based on works. “…if it be of works, then is it no more grace…” (Rom. 11:6). If you have been fed a gospel which teaches God has saved you based on the works He foresaw you would do, then you have no right to say, or even think, you have been saved by grace. “…if by grace, then is it no more of works…” (Rom. 11:6). What Paul was saying was ‘If it is by works, then it must be entirely by works, for it cannot be by grace at all’, and ‘If it is by grace, then it must be entirely by grace, for it cannot be by any works at all’. If by grace means not by works (see Eph. 2:8,9), what percentage of election and salvation is attributable to grace? 100%!! NO PART of election, NO PART of salvation is ascribable to a man’s works!
Everything outside of salvation by free grace alone, conditions salvation on man in some way and to some degree. If it is not by grace alone, then all that remains is to condition salvation on works. This does not only run contrary to what God states in His Word, but is militantly opposed to how the true God saves His people from their sins. Here’s what really saved people say, God “…hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9); “…after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:4,5). God’s kindness is according to His mercy, not our works. God’s kindness is according to Him, not us. God has saved His people according to His grace and purpose, not their works. This is the true and only God. Works do not save anybody, which only leaves grace as the answer. If salvation cannot be deserved, then obviously the only way anyone can be saved is by that which is totally undeserved. Enter grace. God saves not by works, but grace—not by works of righteousness, but mercy. In other words, NOT BY MAN, BY GRACE! NOT BY MAN, BY MERCY!! NOT BY MAN, BY GOD!!! The Biblical teaching that God chose those He wanted to be His before He even made the foundation of the world (see Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9), shows that no man could possibly have influenced God’s choice. God chose because man could never do. Ironically, many of those who claim that election was based on God foreseeing who would choose Him, etc., readily agree that salvation is by grace. But if salvation is by that which is undeserved, how could anything be done to deserve it? How could God choose a people based on what they did, if salvation is by grace? Those who say election is based on God foreseeing who would do good and choose Him, simply base salvation on works because they cannot accept the Biblical fact that election is based on grace and nothing more.
Man’s spiritual blindness has him believing that election is based on good works foreseen by God, but the Holy Spirit of God through the writings of the apostle Paul noted that election is of grace (see Rom. 11:5). The Word of God shows that grace is free and freely given by God to whomsoever He wills to grant it, and not because of any foreseen, or actual, good deeds done by a man. The Word of God insists God is responsible for salvation, not man. Salvation is all about the will of God to save whomsoever He wants by His grace alone. God saving by grace is God having to save by grace, for there is no other way, or means, a man can be saved. Not that God is in any way obligated to save, but that salvation can only be purchased by the grace of God. God saves by grace because there is no other way salvation could come to man that does not deserve to be saved, but who only deserves destruction. “The wages of sin is death; but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). The only means outside of grace is works, and we know from the Word of God that no man is saved by works, that is, by what he does. MAN HAS TO BE SAVED BY GRACE, AND IF BY GRACE THEN IT MUST BE BY GRACE ALONE. IF IT IS BY GRACE ALONE THEN SALVATION IS BY GOD’S CHOICE NOT MAN’S! To reply to this by saying God’s choice is based on a man’s works, foreseen, or otherwise, is to cancel out election by grace. It is to change the entire meaning of the word ‘grace’ from that which is undeserved, to that which is deserved. From salvation being changed from something that is God’s choice, to that which is a man’s choice. It unseats God, and puts man on the Throne. The Word of God makes it clear that election came before any man’s works be they good or evil: “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth;)” (Rom. 9:11 cf. 2 Cor. 3:5). Election is not according to works, but solely according to God. A man is chosen unto salvation without having done any works to deserve it, hence, salvation is solely by grace. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28).
The first thing Paul makes reference to after writing Romans 9:11, is the natural reaction to Sovereign grace, which is common in all men. Natural man’s reaction to the concept of election according to the will and grace of God and not any man’s will and works is that it is somehow unrighteous. This staggering intrinsic reaction from sinful man belies the natural conviction which lies in every unregenerate man’s heart, that he somehow has a better chance at salvation if all were left to him—if salvation were based on a man’s will and works, and not God’s will and grace. This is what sin has done to the mind of man. “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:14-16 cf. Ex. 33:19). We see here that the very thing natural man calls unrighteousness, God calls His mercy and compassion! God wanting to have mercy and compassion on those He chooses is a display of God’s Goodness, not of any unrighteousness. This could only be if man, left to himself, could never come to the only true God by what he, the man, did. Salvation is “…not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9). The goodness of God is-rather than rightly condemning all to Hell, He has chosen, by His tender mercy and grace-to save some from the undeserving masses to be His forever. Salvation is about God having mercy, not a man willing and running. Salvation is God doing, not man doing. Salvation is simply not of man—it is neither by his will, or by his efforts—but only by God. Election and salvation are not of man, but of God. They are not by anything a man wills or does, but solely and completely by God having mercy and compassion. Now, mercy and compassion are not based on anything a person has done to deserve being elected and saved. Mercy and compassion come only when nothing has been done to deserve election and salvation. It then stands to Biblical reason that if salvation is only by God, it can only be by the unmerited favour of God. If salvation is only by God, then salvation cannot be that which a man can ever earn by what he does. Salvation is only by what God does, salvation is only by grace. Salvation by grace is salvation by nothing which is deserved.
Salvation is not a response from God which comes after any act of man. “It is not an acquired response that is under the control of, or conditional on the occurrence of, a stimulus.” That is, no man by what he does can cause God to respond to him with salvation. Salvation is not a prize earned, but a gift given. Salvation is a primary act on the part of God. Salvation is a self-motivated act on the part of God which comes from the heart of His love, grace and mercy for His chosen people. There is no stimulus for salvation other than that which lies within God Himself. Nothing can arouse the act of election, or the act of salvation apart from the Sovereign will and undeserved love of God for His people. Therefore, if salvation is undeserved, then it becomes patently clear that nothing a man does plays any part in his salvation. It is all of God. “‘Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning’. Christians therefore, should work hard, strive, and toil—but we do so not for grace but from grace.” Not to get saved, but because they are saved. “Because of the Gospel Christians are motivated not by guilt but by gratitude. And the Gospel is the greatest motivating power in the world, propelling followers of Christ to love their neighbor, do justice, and share the Gospel. Philippians 2:12,13 describes this type of grace-driven effort: '…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure'”. If salvation is not by that which is deserved then it can only be by grace. Election is not about a man’s will, it is not about man choosing God, but about God choosing whomsoever He wills to be saved. Again, people see this as unfair. They say, ‘What chance do we have if God does the choosing?’ The elephant in the room which all lost men fail to see, is: no man has any chance to choose God, for they are all dead in trespasses and sins (see Eph.2:1,5; Rom. 3:9). God is the only hope, the only chance any lost, Hell-deserving sinner has. Man is not neutral, he is dead. God’s choosing to save some helpless and hopelessly unworthy people is the glory of God. God explains this as His Goodness: “And He said, I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” (Ex. 33:19). The goodness of God is to be gracious to those whom He wills to be gracious, and to show mercy toward those whom He wills to be merciful. If you do not believe and abide in this doctrine, you do not have God. God’s choosing those to whom He would be merciful and gracious, IS GOD’S GOODNESS, not any display of unrighteousness on His part. Flee anyone and everyone who dares to claim that election is in any way unrighteous.
Let us now examine the question: “‘Is there unrighteousness with God?’ This is not an objection of Paul’s, but of an adversary, which he takes up and returns an answer to; and which itself greatly serves to settle and confirm the true sense and meaning of the apostle in this place; as that it could not be, that election and rejection of men should proceed according to their merits; or that God chooses some for their good works, and rejects others for their wicked works, because no man could ever pretend to charge God with unrighteousness on this account; nor could it be that God chose and rejected men, upon a foresight of their good and evil works, for this also would not be liable to such an objection; nor that the Jews, having made the law of none effect by their traditions, despised the Gospel, crucified Christ, and persecuted His disciples, are therefore cast off, and the Gentiles, being obedient both in word and deed, are received into favour, for this likewise would not be chargeable with unrighteousness by men; but that two persons, as Jacob and Esau, and the same may be said of all mankind, being upon an equal foot, not being yet born, nor having done either good or evil, an inequality, a difference is made between them, by God Himself; the one is chosen, the other passed by: now in this is some show, some pretence at least, for such an objection; nor is it any wonder to meet with it from the carnal reason of men; wherefore we may be sure that the latter, and not either of the former, is the true sense of the apostle; since only this, and not either of them, is liable to such an exception: let us attend to the apostle's answer, which is ‘first’ in his usual manner, by way of detestation and abhorrence, ‘God forbid’: God is not unrighteous in His nature; nor in any of His ways and works; nor in this, in choosing some and rejecting others. There is no unrighteousness with God in that part of predestination, commonly called election; for this is neither an act of justice, nor injustice; not of justice, but of grace and mercy; of undue and undeserved grace and mercy, of mere Sovereign grace and mercy; and is what God was not obliged to do; wherefore to choose some and not others, is no act of injustice; for injustice is a violation of justice, which has no place in this affair: if it is an act of injustice, it must be either to them that are chosen, or to them that are not; not to them that are chosen, to them it is an act of favour and good will, they are chosen to grace and glory, to holiness here, and happiness hereafter; not to them that are passed by, because they had no right nor claim to the grace and glory, which by this act are denied them, and therefore no injustice is done them.”
There is absolutely no injustice whatsoever in God’s choosing to love some, and not all. He favors them, for He has chosen to be gracious and merciful to them only according to His will, love and purpose. This, far from being an injustice, reveals the goodness of God in saving some who simply did not in any way deserve to be saved, and had no legitimate claims to salvation. There is also no injustice in God’s denying His favour to others, for all are only deserving of justice, all are deserving of suffering the eternal Wrath of God. None could ever earn grace or mercy. God gives to these only what they deserve, and to others He gives what they do not deserve. There is no evidence of any injustice here at all, for the chosen of God have had their sins paid for by His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. He has taken away their sins and imputed unto them His Righteousness (see Isa. 53). There can be no injustice in grace and mercy. God has punished their sins in Christ His Son so that He could have mercy upon His chosen. Therefore, it is right and proper for God to save them. “Every prince may choose his own ministers and favourites, and who he will have of his privy council, without doing any injustice, to those he takes no notice of; every man may choose his own company who he will converse with, without doing any wrong to such he does not think fit to admit to an intimacy with him; and yet men are not willing to allow the Most High that liberty, which every man daily takes, and may lawfully make use of: nor is there any unrighteousness with God in the other branch of predestination, commonly called reprobation…the decree, or appointment to damnation.” God has chosen a bride unto Himself—a people from every nation. God has not sinned by not choosing to marry with everyone of every nation. Man does not sin in choosing one bride from among women. So too, God has not sinned by choosing for Himself a bride from among nations (see Isa. 54:5; 62:5; Jn. 11:49-52; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-33). Paul the apostle writing to the church of the Thessalonians, said: “For God hath not appointed us to Wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us…” (1 Thess. 5:9,10 cf. Jd. 4). All are appointed by God either to His eternal Wrath, or to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ through His death. God has appointed some to His Wrath, whilst others have been appointed by Him through grace to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ Who died exclusively by Divine appointment for them. “…as God damns no man but for sin, so He has decreed to damn no man but for sin; and if it is no unrighteousness in Him to damn men for sin, as to be sure it is not, so it can be no unrighteousness in Him to decree to damn any for it. The objection—'is there unrighteousness with God?'—is to be treated with abhorrence and indignation.”
No man ever loved God before God chose to love the man according to His will and purpose. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19 cf. Rom. 11:35). Therefore, how can any act of obedience on man’s part have preceded the love of God toward him. All man did was to sin against the Holy God and lose his spiritual life forever. Man is dead! God said that when Adam sinned he would surely die (see Gen. 2:17). This single truth is so naturally rejected by carnal, lost men and is the cause of their ignorance and belligerent attitude toward the Holy God, His grace and mercy in electing some to salvation and appointing others to His Wrath. Eve refused to believe that she and her husband would surely die, and man, by nature, to this very day still rejects this humbling truth. He still believes he is not spiritually dead. Three simple words, ‘Man is dead’ and yet, lost man still doesn’t get it, which is the supreme evidence that he is dead. Man is dead in sins, hopeless and helpless, for he is without God, AND WITHOUT THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD! Now please tell me, how can a man get saved? What can a man do to get saved? The answer to both questions is: absolutely nothing! Nothing can be done by one who is without hope. Nothing can be done by anyone who is without God. Nothing can be done by anyone to get saved, for “…by grace are ye saved through faith…not of yourselves…not of works…” (Eph. 2:8,9). Nothing can be done by man, nothing can be achieved by any of his works which is why grace is so necessary, why God must act, if any are to be saved, because man cannot. Like an empty suit made up of filthy rags, a man who is spiritually dead can do nothing to recommend himself to God. The doctrine of salvation by grace alone is so indispensable because there is nothing else that can save. By grace are ye saved, not works. By God ye are saved, and not of yourselves. The Lord Jesus said, “NO MAN CAN come to Me…” (Jn. 6:44). Salvation is impossible with man, therefore, salvation can only be possible with God, which means nothing less than salvation is impossible by anything a man does—works—therefore, it can only be made a reality, brought into existence, by what God does: grace.
When the jailer asked “What must I do to be saved?”, the answer he received was, “Believe” (Acts 16:30,31). The apostle was saying that there is nothing you can do to be saved, nothing you can do by which you can obtain salvation. The Jailer was not told to, ‘Keep the Ten Commandments’, he was not told ‘Do your best and hope God will accept you’. Not at all. The man was told to “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Acts 16:31), in other words ‘trust only in Him, all that He is and all that He has done’. Belief in the Saviour through the gift of faith given by the grace of God is what saves a man. Of critical importance is the fact that no man is saved because he believes. The Christian is saved because of Whom he believes. Believing is of God, it is the gift of God not a work of man’s. Salvation does not come after a man has done anything. Salvation does not come after an act of man, for salvation, all of salvation, is by the grace of God. Belief comes the instant a man is saved by grace and given the faith with which to believe the Gospel of the doctrines of the grace of God. It must be a supernatural act of God by which you will believe. A man must be made alive, a man must be born again before he can see the Kingdom of God (see Jn. 3:3). A man is saved by grace through the gift of believing. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things… But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (1 Pet. 1:18-21). “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29). “…This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent” (Jn. 6:29). “…who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27). As with repentance, believing is a gift from God to all His people. A man dead in his sins can no more believe than a cat can become a dog. No man ever savingly believed the Gospel of grace whilst dead in trespasses and sins, just as no man ever saw the Kingdom of God before being born again. Believing must be given by grace. A man must be made alive by grace, he must be made a new creature in Christ by grace before he can believe, so that he will believe.
Grace is a direct act of God’s toward all His elect. There is no antecedent act by man which is necessary, or possible, that can be done to merit grace. Grace comes by the free will of God. The source of grace is the will of God, not the will of man. A man working for his salvation does not have grace. Grace turns a man from his works to God alone. The saved man looks to God alone for his salvation, he turns from his own righteousness, and declares “…in the LORD have I Righteousness…” (Isa. 45:24). The saved man does not trust in anything that has contributed to establishing his own righteousness, but only in the Righteousness of God. The Christian trusts in God, not in himself, not anyone else, not anything else. There is nothing a man can do to cause God to choose him, for the choosing was done before the world began. Likewise, there is nothing a man can do to prevent God’s Wrath from occurring. To concentrate on what a man does, or does not do, as playing any part in salvation is ridiculous, for God’s electing those for whom His Son would die, and those whom He would rightly appoint to His Wrath, was done prior to the beginning of the world. What a man does is irrelevant when it comes to who is saved and who is not. God made His choice before any good or evil was done. Salvation is not based on works, but only on grace. There is no connection between a man’s works and his salvation. No man is saved, or remains saved, by anything he has done. Salvation is by the gift of grace through the gift of faith in what God alone has done. Otherwise, we would have the absurd situation were God would have chosen a man according to his works before any good or evil was done! Election, therefore, would have been based on the good or evil, no man had yet even done! Ridiculous! Man in his lost state can never see the goodness of God in saving some. All lost man can see is what he calls unrighteousness in God’s having apportioned some to Hell. Where, then should God appoint those who have sinned against Him, and are dead in sins? Man is dead in sins, lost in his sinfulness and is consequently self-obsessed with works as a way to God. Any works, any works to get saved, any works believed to be that by which a man remains saved, are not the way to God. God saves, and He keeps His people saved by what He has done, not by anything they do. A man dead in sins cannot see God, for he cannot see past himself. This is the primary distinguishing sign of the lost. Whilst dead, they never stop their fruitless journey along the road of works in a vain, foolish, blasphemous attempt to get saved. Works are an affront to God. Trying to get saved by anything you do is blasphemy. Works are a lost man’s way to salvation. There are many people convinced they are Christian who say a man is saved by grace as long as they obey. One lady commented that she believed people are saved by grace, “but there are attachments”. She believed that while a person is freely saved by grace, there are conditions attached to grace which man must meet through his obedience in order to be sure of salvation! If those attachments, or conditions, are not met then being saved by grace becomes a meaningless catchphrase. Saved by grace, but if a man does not do, he will end up lost. Again, this is nothing but a ‘salvation’ conditioned on man, rather than God alone. Mere lip service is paid to grace, but what such people really believe is salvation simply cannot be without the obedient works of man. Such people continuously, and robotically, state ‘faith without works is dead’, blasphemously combining works with grace as the way to salvation. They never see the reality that grace with works is also dead. If you trust in your works, you cannot possibly believe in the grace of God. BLIND is their mind and DEAD is their spirit! “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3,4).
The misinterpretation of James 2:20 has caused millions to believe that works must be done, or one cannot be saved. The misconception is that one cannot be saved, or maintain one’s ‘salvation’, without personal works of obedience. Such a belief has no trust in God, or in His glorious grace as sufficient to save a man, and keep him saved. The gospel of works which many have mistakenly drawn from James 2, promotes the lie that salvation is by grace and works, and that this interpretation somehow overrides the Scripture which says “…BY GRACE are ye saved through faith…NOT WORKS…” (Eph. 2:8,9). I mean, what part of “NOT WORKS” don’t they understand? What is the great difficulty? What do the salvation by works crowd do when they arrive at this verse, when they physically see the glaringly obvious and transparently clear words “NOT WORKS”! What happens in their minds, what happens when they see this insurmountable and utterly undeniable phrase, “NOT WORKS”. The clear message of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 2 is that salvation is “…BY GRACE…NOT WORKS…” If works were a necessity to salvation, then Ephesians 2 would be saying ‘BY WORKS NOT GRACE’, or ‘by grace are ye saved but not without works’. This is essentially what the people who have been fed, and gorged themselves on a truck load of pure garbage concerning James 2:20, believe. Grace and works is all they know, and they reject anything and everything which even comes close to the Biblical “…by grace…NOT works”. All is vanity, in terms of good works and loving one’s neighbour etc., if one has not been given the gift of faith to believe in the only true Gospel of God. A faith that believes in works, any works, is dead. Scripture says “...faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:20 cf. Titus 1:16; Jas. 2:10), but what must also be made clear is the fact that works without saving faith are just as dead. Works without the Faith which believes only in the Gospel of salvation by the grace of God alone, which comes from God as a gift to His people, are nothing but vanity when it comes to salvation. All works are vanity before a man is saved. The faith God gives to His chosen people by grace, believes and trusts solely in the works of Jesus Christ for their Salvation. It is HIS Righteousness they trust in; it is HIS obedience they trust in; it is who HE is and what HE has done that they trust in, not in themselves, or anything which they have done. The faith which is natural to all men trusts in their works, and the faith which God gives by grace to His chosen trusts only in what Christ has done. “…they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of Righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). Salvation is by the Righteousness of Christ given to the chosen people of God by grace alone. The Christian believes and trusts only by what he has been given—grace—in what has been imputed to him—the Righteousness of Christ. The Christian believes by grace in the Righteousness of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He believes with the gift of faith in the imputed Righteousness of Jesus Christ. Christians do not even trust in the works God has ordained for them to walk in to secure their salvation, FOR “…by the obedience of ONE shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:19). Salvation is only by the obedience of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, ALONE! Anyone who has a problem with this has a problem with the only true God, and is not saved. Just as with any variant of the salvation by works doctrine, conditioning salvation upon doing the works which God has ordained for His saved ones to perform, would leave one in a constant state of fear and perturbation, wondering if they had actually performed them all, or well enough. If salvation was in any way based on works, there would always be room for debate and conjecture as to whether a man was saved, or not. One man’s standard of obedience would invariably differ from another’s. ‘Have I done all that I was given to do? Have I done what I have done well enough? Has what I have done met with God’s Standard of perfection? This would be the perpetual state of a man who believes salvation is at least partially based on his works. The surety of a man saved by grace alone is clear in the Scriptures. “God the Father planned our salvation (see Jn. 3:16); God the Son purchased our salvation (see 1 Tim.1:15); and God the Holy Spirit perfects this salvation in the heart of the sinner who is saved by grace (see Rom. 8:15,16). Man’s efforts are excluded altogether.”